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COVID-19: Two Merchants Cited For Price Gouging Hand Sanitizer, Disinfectant Spray By State AG

Hand sanitizer
Hand sanitizer Photo Credit: File photo

Two New York businesses have been cited for price gouging for hand sanitizer and disinfectant sprays in the midst of an outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

New York Attorney General Letitia James has ordered two New York City merchants to cease and desist charging customers excessive prices for hand sanitizers and disinfectant sprays.

The two merchants were cited after investigators followed up on tips from New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office on the overcharging.

Investigators confirmed on Saturday, March 7, that Scheman & Grant Hardware/Ace Hardware, in Midtown Manhattan was charging customers $79.99 for 1200mL of hand sanitizer, the AG's Office said.

On Monday, investigators found that City Fresh Market in Astoria, Queens was charging customers $14.99 for a 19 oz bottle of disinfectant spray during the same period of market disruption.

“On my watch, we will not tolerate schemes or frauds designed to turn large profits by exploiting people’s health concerns,” said James. “While there remains no cause for widespread panic, some people are looking to prey on others’ anxiety and line their own pockets.

"My office will remain vigilant in ensuring that we find and stop such unlawful activity and continue to ask the public to report suspected fraud, scams, or price gouging to my office.”

The office is also warning New Yorkers that scammers commonly exploit real public health concerns and use heightened public fear to prey on consumers.

“We are in the middle of a crisis, and we need to help our fellow New Yorkers. Now is not the time to try and profit,” said de Blasio. “Not only is price gouging immoral, it is also illegal. I thank the Attorney General for working with us to stop this practice in its tracks.”

Both are encouraging residents to report retailers that appear to take unfair advantage of consumers by selling goods or services for an unconscionably excessive price.

If you have questions or concerns about health insurance costs related to COVID-19 tests or care, please call the OAG’s Health Care hotline: 1-800-428-9071.

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